LACKAWANNA BLUES

Critics

LemonMeter

90 %

Reviews: 15

Audience

LemonMeter

Reviews: 0

A magical, musical, and deeply personal work written and performed by Tony Award® winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Lackawanna Blues is a reminiscence of his 1950s childhood in a small town on the banks of Lake Erie. Santiago-Hudson takes on more than 20 colorful characters—from would-be philosophers and petty hustlers to lost souls and abandoned lovers—in a brilliant celebration of the eccentric boardinghouse he grew up in. Santiago-Hudson returns to his roots in this tour de force performance with live blues music by composer Bill Sims Jr., performed by Grammy Award-winning blues guitarist, composer, and actor Chris Thomas King.

Reviews

Avatar
"Anyone with a heart must see this show at the Mark Taper Forum! Ruben Santiago-Hudson is talented, charming, and has soul with a capital S! When I would see him do his expository few lines (as the police captain) on Castle each week back in the day, I had no idea that his capabilities were so wide-ranging!"

sweet - Karen Salkin - It's Not About Me - ...read full review


Avatar
"Director Santiago-Hudson has paced the comedy perfectly and timed the rhythm of the evening for greatest effect. This one-act is very funny and not to be missed."

sweet - Patricia Foster Rye - Larchmont Chronicle - ...read full review


Avatar
"King's playing brings out the guttural, deep enriched sounds. You can snap your fingers, tap your feet or even dust the dirt off your shoulder in sync to perfect harmony with King's guitar licks. Like the actor, the music embodies the show providing more insight of the characters. Hudson-Santiago keeps his energy up in the nearly 2 hour show, smiling, reminiscing and having a great time doing dance moves, y'all remember The Dog? he does and does it well."

sweet - Mary Montoro - All About the Stage - ...read full review


Avatar
"Lackawanna Blues: "a magical, musical reminiscence," the Mark Taper Forum program promises... Lackawanna Blues is a master class in what it means to embody characters. Santiago-Hudson is an artistic powerhouse. The stage is minimally set save for a jagged brick wall that crawls upstage and a lone fan that spins lazily above the two men performing. As an audience member, I didn't need anything else. Darden and Santiago-Hudson provided the rest and then some."

sweet - Kelsey Goeres - The SoCal Review - ...read full review


Avatar
"This autobiographical narrative is a funny, emotional, intense and authentic look at Santiago-Hudson's life starting with his 1950s childhood in a small town on the banks of Lake Erie... While his acting, writing and directing skills are on display – his harmonica playing can't be ignored. Santiago-Hudson plays it with finesse as if it's another character. He and King together bring depth and emotion to the show."

sweet - Darlene Donloe - Donloe's Lowdown - ...read full review


Avatar
"An achievement? By all means, and yet… In spite of this being a short evening with no intermission, the telling eventually devolves into something of a ramble, with stories that are progressively more disconnected and less prepossessing as it moves along. The Taper stage is not an ideal venue for one-person shows. Or even two-person shows. Performing Lackawanna Blues on its thrust, with its width and high ceiling, deprives the material of the very intimacy it cries out for."

sweet-sour - Sylvie Drake - Cultural Weekly - ...read full review


Avatar
"

What is rhythm without the blues?  Yes, rhythm brings the world much needed joyful grooves but it should be met with the blues to bring it into an appreciative stark relief.

Overall, Ruben Santiago-Hudson's "Lackawanna Blues" is an entertaining, endearing and inspiring love letter to his Nanny, whose life of indelible service deserves to be spotlighted on the stage of the Mark Taper Forum.

"

sweet-sour - Aja Houston - USC Annenberg Media - ...read full review


Eric A Gordon
"But for real local color, there's nothing like poking around the underbelly of the working class—these uneducated, out-of-work misfits, maladroits and war veterans, some of them with missing limbs and others with streams of pretense or amusing malapropisms flowing from their lips—for heart-grabbing stories. The author's powers of observation, recollection and storytelling, not to mention acting, singing and musicality, are prodigious, magical and virtuosistic. We don't even miss these other people on the stage: They're there, as he distinctly and believably portrays ancient survivors and young children, both men and women, even a few animals, slipping easily from one to the next through gait, voice, gesture, and vivid vernacular vocabulary. In several scenes—a conversation, a hit dance called “The Dog” or a brutal fight—he plays both parts. Even when he pauses to recall just the nicknames of the people in the hood that he remembered, his recitation is like a sonnet of folk poetry."

sweet - Eric Gordon - People's World - ...read full review


Erin Conley
"It is really Santiago-Hudson's honesty and energy that makes the story pop, and while the comedic asides are fun, this show shines brightest in the emotional, heartfelt moments. This may be one man's story, but anyone who has fond memories of a close family member or caregiver will relate to the sentiments behind it, which are fleshed out in vivid detail by Santiago-Hudson's thoughtful words."

sweet - Erin Conley - On Stage and Screen - ...read full review


Patrick Chavis
"When the narrative is centered around Nanny and her strong personality many of the stories are interesting and downright captivating."

sweet-sour - Patrick Chavis - LA Theatre Bites - ...read full review


Avatar
"Ruben Santiago-Hudson re-enacts over 20 characters that include a couple of drunks, a few mentally challenged individuals and some physically scarred characters. His smooth storytelling is enhanced by his pleasing voice, fluid movements and exquisite harmonica playing."

sweet - Jill Weinlein - On Stage Blog - ...read full review


Shari Barrett
"There is something special about the magic which is created during a live theater performance that cannot be duplicated on television or film as the interaction with an audience allows well-written and directed stories, starring incredibly talented actors, to soar into the history books as an event not to miss. Such is the case in LACKAWANNA BLUES, Ruben Santiago-Hudson's theatrical memoir in which he returns to his roots in a tour-de-force performance accompanied throughout by Grammy-winning blues guitarist, composer and actor Chris Thomas King."

sweet - Shari Barrett - Broadway World - ...read full review


Avatar
"Here's what it takes to lift a solo show out of the ordinary: a superbly inspiring story about a subject worthy of our theater-going time, performed by an actor skilled enough to sharply create characters we recognize and we believe are standing before us."

sweet - Dany Margolies - Daily News - ...read full review


Avatar
" the compact stage version at the Mark Taper Forum — written, directed and performed by Santiago-Hudson — is still the most potent way of experiencing the story. The new production preserves the old synergy, but Santiago-Hudson's performance has grown only more relaxed and assured. Standing before a re-creation of the boardinghouse façade in vintage 1950s garb evoking the period of his youth, he conjures multitudes with his rich memory and malleable voice. But more than his gift for portraiture, it's his talent for vividly conjuring a way of life that enthralls."

sweet - Charles McNulty - LA Times - ...read full review


Avatar
"Santiago-Hudson commands the stage at all times in Lackawanna Blues, delivering his monologue in charismatic fashion, immortalizing not only the indefatigable Nanny but many of the raffish, often hilarious denizens of her boarding house. His performance—and his description of African-American life in Lackawanna—is both vivid and funny…and above all touching. Don't miss it."

sweet - Willard Manus - Total Theater - ...read full review


Avatar
"Anyone with a heart must see this show at the Mark Taper Forum! Ruben Santiago-Hudson is talented, charming, and has soul with a capital S! When I would see him do his expository few lines (as the police captain) on Castle each week back in the day, I had no idea that his capabilities were so wide-ranging!"

sweet - Karen Salkin - It's Not About Me - ...read full review


Avatar
"Director Santiago-Hudson has paced the comedy perfectly and timed the rhythm of the evening for greatest effect. This one-act is very funny and not to be missed."

sweet - Patricia Foster Rye - Larchmont Chronicle - ...read full review


Avatar
"King's playing brings out the guttural, deep enriched sounds. You can snap your fingers, tap your feet or even dust the dirt off your shoulder in sync to perfect harmony with King's guitar licks. Like the actor, the music embodies the show providing more insight of the characters. Hudson-Santiago keeps his energy up in the nearly 2 hour show, smiling, reminiscing and having a great time doing dance moves, y'all remember The Dog? he does and does it well."

sweet - Mary Montoro - All About the Stage - ...read full review


Avatar
"Lackawanna Blues: "a magical, musical reminiscence," the Mark Taper Forum program promises... Lackawanna Blues is a master class in what it means to embody characters. Santiago-Hudson is an artistic powerhouse. The stage is minimally set save for a jagged brick wall that crawls upstage and a lone fan that spins lazily above the two men performing. As an audience member, I didn't need anything else. Darden and Santiago-Hudson provided the rest and then some."

sweet - Kelsey Goeres - The SoCal Review - ...read full review


Avatar
"This autobiographical narrative is a funny, emotional, intense and authentic look at Santiago-Hudson's life starting with his 1950s childhood in a small town on the banks of Lake Erie... While his acting, writing and directing skills are on display – his harmonica playing can't be ignored. Santiago-Hudson plays it with finesse as if it's another character. He and King together bring depth and emotion to the show."

sweet - Darlene Donloe - Donloe's Lowdown - ...read full review


Avatar
"An achievement? By all means, and yet… In spite of this being a short evening with no intermission, the telling eventually devolves into something of a ramble, with stories that are progressively more disconnected and less prepossessing as it moves along. The Taper stage is not an ideal venue for one-person shows. Or even two-person shows. Performing Lackawanna Blues on its thrust, with its width and high ceiling, deprives the material of the very intimacy it cries out for."

sweet-sour - Sylvie Drake - Cultural Weekly - ...read full review


Avatar
"

What is rhythm without the blues?  Yes, rhythm brings the world much needed joyful grooves but it should be met with the blues to bring it into an appreciative stark relief.

Overall, Ruben Santiago-Hudson's "Lackawanna Blues" is an entertaining, endearing and inspiring love letter to his Nanny, whose life of indelible service deserves to be spotlighted on the stage of the Mark Taper Forum.

"

sweet-sour - Aja Houston - USC Annenberg Media - ...read full review


Eric A Gordon
"But for real local color, there's nothing like poking around the underbelly of the working class—these uneducated, out-of-work misfits, maladroits and war veterans, some of them with missing limbs and others with streams of pretense or amusing malapropisms flowing from their lips—for heart-grabbing stories. The author's powers of observation, recollection and storytelling, not to mention acting, singing and musicality, are prodigious, magical and virtuosistic. We don't even miss these other people on the stage: They're there, as he distinctly and believably portrays ancient survivors and young children, both men and women, even a few animals, slipping easily from one to the next through gait, voice, gesture, and vivid vernacular vocabulary. In several scenes—a conversation, a hit dance called “The Dog” or a brutal fight—he plays both parts. Even when he pauses to recall just the nicknames of the people in the hood that he remembered, his recitation is like a sonnet of folk poetry."

sweet - Eric Gordon - People's World - ...read full review


Erin Conley
"It is really Santiago-Hudson's honesty and energy that makes the story pop, and while the comedic asides are fun, this show shines brightest in the emotional, heartfelt moments. This may be one man's story, but anyone who has fond memories of a close family member or caregiver will relate to the sentiments behind it, which are fleshed out in vivid detail by Santiago-Hudson's thoughtful words."

sweet - Erin Conley - On Stage and Screen - ...read full review


Patrick Chavis
"When the narrative is centered around Nanny and her strong personality many of the stories are interesting and downright captivating."

sweet-sour - Patrick Chavis - LA Theatre Bites - ...read full review


Avatar
"Ruben Santiago-Hudson re-enacts over 20 characters that include a couple of drunks, a few mentally challenged individuals and some physically scarred characters. His smooth storytelling is enhanced by his pleasing voice, fluid movements and exquisite harmonica playing."

sweet - Jill Weinlein - On Stage Blog - ...read full review


Shari Barrett
"There is something special about the magic which is created during a live theater performance that cannot be duplicated on television or film as the interaction with an audience allows well-written and directed stories, starring incredibly talented actors, to soar into the history books as an event not to miss. Such is the case in LACKAWANNA BLUES, Ruben Santiago-Hudson's theatrical memoir in which he returns to his roots in a tour-de-force performance accompanied throughout by Grammy-winning blues guitarist, composer and actor Chris Thomas King."

sweet - Shari Barrett - Broadway World - ...read full review


Avatar
"Here's what it takes to lift a solo show out of the ordinary: a superbly inspiring story about a subject worthy of our theater-going time, performed by an actor skilled enough to sharply create characters we recognize and we believe are standing before us."

sweet - Dany Margolies - Daily News - ...read full review


Avatar
" the compact stage version at the Mark Taper Forum — written, directed and performed by Santiago-Hudson — is still the most potent way of experiencing the story. The new production preserves the old synergy, but Santiago-Hudson's performance has grown only more relaxed and assured. Standing before a re-creation of the boardinghouse façade in vintage 1950s garb evoking the period of his youth, he conjures multitudes with his rich memory and malleable voice. But more than his gift for portraiture, it's his talent for vividly conjuring a way of life that enthralls."

sweet - Charles McNulty - LA Times - ...read full review


Avatar
"Santiago-Hudson commands the stage at all times in Lackawanna Blues, delivering his monologue in charismatic fashion, immortalizing not only the indefatigable Nanny but many of the raffish, often hilarious denizens of her boarding house. His performance—and his description of African-American life in Lackawanna—is both vivid and funny…and above all touching. Don't miss it."

sweet - Willard Manus - Total Theater - ...read full review